Loading... Please wait...
Join Ergonomics Insider News

Back Pain Treatment

Back Pain Treatment


Treatment for back pain depends on the actual cause of the pain. Some back pain is caused by minor injuries while other cases are caused by more serious, even disabling diseases. Treatment begins by first discovering the cause, then tailoring treatment to each patient.

The anatomy of the back

The back is an intricate system of bones, muscles, nerves, discs, and ligaments. The back bones, or vertebrae, enclose the spinal cord which sends branches of nerves between the vertebrae to supply the body with its nerve supply. The vertebrae are separated and cushioned by cartilage discs. The spine is divided into three sections: the cervical (or neck) portion, the thoracic (or mid-back) portion, and the lumbar (low back) portion. Long muscles run along the sides and the back of the spine, while smaller muscles run between the vertebrae. Ligaments connect the vertebrae to each other. The muscles and ligaments lend support and stability to the spine.

Causes of Back Pain

Any part of the back can cause pain. Bones can be affected by arthritis and osteoporosis, discs can become herniated or ruptured leading to pinching or compression of the nerves, or the muscles and ligaments can become sprained or strained. Spinal stenosis, or narrowing of the spinal canal, is more common in the elderly. Pain in another body part or organ can cause back pain, which is called "referred pain". By far, the most common cause of back pain is muscle sprains or ligament strains, and this is most likely to occur in the lower back. 

Treating Back Pain

Once the cause of back pain is determined, then treatment can begin. For cases of simple acute injury, home care will generally bring relief. It is usually wise to stop doing the activity that caused the pain or any activities that aggravate the back. Use ice on the sore area to stop any inflammation. Bed rest is generally not recommended in these cases. Use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory agents (nsaids) like ibuprofen can combat inflammation and control pain. Acetaminophen is another drug useful for pain relief and may be gentler on the stomach than nsaids.

If you are unable to control the pain, if it is severe and disabling, if the pain becomes chronic, or if you have other symptoms, you should seek treatment from a medical provider. They will examine your back and perform various diagnostic tests to determine the cause of your pain. Based on these findings, they will recommend treatments and remedies to heal your back and to prevent the pain from reoccurring.  Strong drugs, like steroids, may be used to control inflammation. Physical therapy sessions may be of benefit in rehabilitating back injuries. In very rare cases, surgery may be recommended.

The best thing to do for back pain is to prevent it in the first place. Aerobic exercises such as swimming, bicycling, and walking improve overall health and help you maintain a healthy weight. Being overweight can stress the back to the point of causing injury. Back and abdominal exercises, both stretching and strengthening, make the back stronger and better able to cope with stresses placed upon it.

Treatment can release you from the misery of back pain, if it is directed towards the cause and helps you strengthen the back. Don’t suffer needlessly by assuming back pain is a natural part of aging or just the price to pay for heavy physical work and sport. Health care professionals can provide you with solutions to your back pain and help you maintain a healthy back.